Tag Archives: gov. kate brown

Oregon Senate Confirms 4 New ODFW Commissioners

Four Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission nominees were among dozens of gubernatorial appointments confirmed by the state Senate earlier this month.

Mark Labhart, Robert Spelbrink, Mary Wahl and Jill Zarnowitz will now join the seven-member citizen panel, replacing four outgoing commissioners over this and the next couple months.

SEN. ARNIE ROBLAN ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE. (OREGON)

Sen. Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay) called the quartet and others up for appointment to various state boards “an amazing assortment of Oregonians” before the 27-1 “en bloc” vote May 15 before the full Senate.

It followed a May 8 do-confirm nod from the Rules Committee, on which Roblan sits.

Spelbrink is a retired commercial fisherman of 40 years and fishing guide of 20 years on the Siletz. According to Senate documents, his term began May 15 and runs through May 31, 2020.

Wahl, who managed toxic cleanups for the state and watershed operations in Portland, now lives in Langlois and co-owns her family’s ranch and is on the board of Wild Rivers Land Trust. Her term began May 15 and runs through May 14, 2023.

Labhart, who worked for the state Department of Forestry, was a Tillamook County Commissioner and now lives in Sisters. His term begins July 1 and runs through June 30, 2023.

Zarnowitz operates a winery near Yamhill after a 40-year career in natural resources management in Oregon and Washington. Her term begins Sept. 1 and runs through Aug. 31, 2023.

ROBERT SPELBRINK, MARY WAHL AND JILL ZARNOWITZ SPEAK BEFORE A SENATE COMMITTEE DURING A HEARING ON THEIR NOMINATION TO SERVE ON THE OREGON FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION. A FOURTH NOMINEE, MARK LABHART, PHONED IN TO DISCUSS HIS QUALIFICATIONS. (OREGON)

Application documents show that both Labhart and Spelbrink hunt and fish.

The four are replacing Bob Webber of Port Orford, Bruce Buckmaster of Astoria, Chair Michael Finley of Medford and Holly Akenson of Enterprise.

In the Senate’s mid-May laundry-list vote, Buckmaster’s appointment to the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board was also approved. He was a thorn in the side of Columbia sportfishing interests during his time on the fish commission.

Gov. Kate Brown’s nomination of a fifth potential fish and game commissioner, Northeast Oregon hunter, outfitter and conservationist James Nash, was not heard by the Senate Rules Committee earlier this month after outcry from environmental groups, but his application is still technically active when the upper chamber next convenes, according to Senate rules.

Oregon Gov. To ODFW: Support For Wolf Delisting Was ‘Incorrect’

In a staggering turn, Oregon’s governor told federal officials that her fish and wildlife director was “incorrect” in supporting the delisting of wolves in the western two-thirds of their state and elsewhere in the Lower 48.

IN A SCREENSHOT FROM KGW8’S FACEBOOK LIVE FEED OF GOV. KATE BROWN’S NEWS CONFERENCE THIS MORNING A REPORTER ASKS A QUESTION ABOUT HER POSITION ON WOLVES. (COURTESY KGW)

“The state of Oregon and its agencies do not support the delisting of wolves from the federal Endangered Species Act across their range in the 48 contiguous states,” Gov. Kate Brown also wrote in a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

That contradicts comments sent just the week before by ODFW’s Curt Melcher that said he agreed with the feds that it was time to remove the species from the ESA list, the state was ready to take on the responsibility across Oregon, and “few changes would occur” as a result.

Asked by a reporter at a news conference late this morning if Melcher should have checked with her office before entering the comments on the Federal Register, Brown said, “That probably would have been a good idea.”

In effectively reversing the state’s position, she said it was “critically important that we maintain rangewide recovery for wolves across the entire Western United States and I think it’s critical they maintain their listing status for that to happen.”

Dominic Aiello of the Oregon Outdoor Council disagreed sharply with the governor’s move.

“The proposed removal of the wolf  — or any species — from the federal Endangered Species Act should be cheered as a conservation success story. Unfortunately, the ESA continues to be used by local and national environmental groups and some politicians as a means to force their political agenda. It is extremely disappointing to see Governor Brown undercut science and the state’s biologists,” he said.

Indeed, wildlife management is based in science — but politics does invade the realm, sometimes more nakedly than others.

Earlier this month, the nomination of a Northeast Oregon hunter, outfitter and conservationist to serve on ODFW’s Fish and Wildlife Commission was scuttled after environmental groups objected, and then changed their tune about why they were objecting.

Objections from environmental groups also led to what’s believed to be a first in Washington, Gov. Jay Insee’s 2015 order to the Fish & Wildlife Commission to reverse a decision involving slightly increased cougar quotas in parts of Eastern Washington.

This is the second time this decade that the USFWS has proposed delisting gray wolves in the western two-thirds of Oregon, Washington and elsewhere outside the Northern Rockies (which include the eastern thirds of both states, where wolves were Congressionally removed in 2011).

The other time, in 2013, it was derailed through the courts.

Meanwhile, the species is clearly recovered and not in any danger of failing in the Northwest, thanks to strong protections put in place by ODFW, WDFW and other state wildlife management agencies.

Comments on this latest proposal were due Tuesday, but USFWS has since extended the deadline until July 15, and Brown’s will now stand as the state’s statement.

“ODFW appreciates and respects the governor’s clarification of the state’s position on federal wolf delisting in the Lower 48,” said agency spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy.

Brown Sends Oregon Senate List Of 5 New Commission Nominees

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has submitted a slate of Fish and Wildlife Commission candidates to the state Senate for consideration next month.

The field includes a double Purple Heart recipient/Northeast Oregon hunting guide; Willamette Valley winery owner/former Department of Fish and Wildlife staffer; Siletz guide/crabber; chair of the ODFW legislative funding task force; and a Wild Rivers Coast Alliance board of directors member/South Coast rancher.

BRIG. GEN. JAMES LUKEMAN PRESENTS 1ST LT. JIM NASH OF THE 2ND TANK BATTALION WITH ONE OF TWO PURPLE HEART MEDALS HE RECEIVED ON MARCH 6, 2013 FOR WOUNDS SUSTAINED IN A MORTAR ATTACK AND FROM AN IED WHILE DEPLOYED IN AFGHANISTAN. (CPL. AUSTIN LONG, DVIDS)

Those nominees are Capt. James Nash, Jill Zarnowitz, Robert Spelbrink, Mark Labhart, and Mary Wahl.

Nash is a member of a longtime Wallowa County cattle ranching family and served as a Marine Corps tank commander in Afghanistan. He describes his life on the ranch and his duty overseas in a compelling July 2018 video produced by Oregon optics maker Leupold.

Zarnowitz has a master’s degree from the University of Washington in fish and wildlands management and worked on water policy for ODFW, and has been the general manager and now coowner of Stag Hollow Wines outside Yamhill.

Spelbrink guides on the Siletz River and has operated the F/V Alliance fishing commercially for crab as well as salmon and albacore.

Wahl also comes from a ranching family, but in the opposite corner of Oregon, near Langlois. With a masters in public administration from Harvard, she managed toxic cleanups for the state and watershed operations in Portland before retiring “to focus on conservation efforts on Oregon’s south coast,” according to her commission application.

And Labhart worked for the Oregon Department of Forestry, served on a board looking into sudden oak death syndrome issues, retired after several years as a Tillamook County Commissioner, and chaired the state legislature’s task force that looked for ways to better fund ODFW before moving to Sisters.

They are scheduled to be considered by the Senate Rules Committee on May 8.

At full strength, Oregon’s commission has seven members, one from each of the state’s five Congressional districts, a sixth from west of the Cascades, the seventh from east of the crest.

Currently there is one open seat while the terms of Chair Michael Finley of Medford and members Holly Akenson of Enterprise and Bruce Buckmaster of Astoria all expire in the coming two months.

The nomination of Buckmaster four springs ago sparked well-founded unease amongst the sportfishing industry, though he was ultimately confirmed by the Senate. His term isn’t being extended for a second four years, but Brown has nominated him to serve on the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board — where he had been the Fish and Wildlife Commission representative since last year — in an at-large seat, according to a member of the governor’s staff.

The terms of Jim Bittle of Central Point and Greg Wolley of Portland run into next year, while that of Bob Webber of Port Orford had been extended past the end of his second term in February 2018 until new commissioners are named, when his service will end, according to the official.

Editor’s note, 9 a.m. April 22, 2019: The last two paragraphs have been tweaked to clarify that Mr. Buckmaster’s appointment to the watershed board would essentially transition from being the representative of the Fish and Wildlife Commission to a public at-large position if confirmed, and that Mr. Webber’s extended term on the commission would end in mid-May after Senate confirmation of new members.